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Autumn Internationals Report Card: Wales

Raffaele Rocca reflects on Wales’ performances over the course of the Autumn internationals series. Wales were outdone in the two games against Australia and New Zealand, they unconvincingly defeated Fiji and ground out a victory over South Africa.  Record: W2 D0 L2 Grade: C.  Wales opened with a defeat to their bogey team Australia in a close affair that Wales ultimately surrendered …

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Autumn Internationals Report Card: France

Raffaele Rocca looks back at France’s record in the Autumn internationals in which they managed two wins against Fiji and Australia but were halted by Argentina in their final game. Record: W2 D0 L1  Grade: C. Brand new French kit, same old French unpredictability. A facile opening victory against Fiji saw debutant Teddy Thomas rack up a hat-trick of tries in …

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Autumn Internationals Report Card: Scotland

Raffaele Rocca grades the performances of the Scotland Rugby side during the Autumn Internationals. The future looks bright for Vern Cotter’s men following some impressive displays.   Scotland Record: W2 D0 L1 Grade: B. Considering where this squad were when Vern Cotter took control, Scotland were easily the most improved squad of the autumn. Cotter was aiming to build on a …

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Autumn Internationals Report Card: England

Raffaele Rocca grades the performances of the English Rugby side during the Autumn Internationals. Stuart Lancaster’s men endured a mixed November.   England Record: W2 D0 L2 Grade: B. Close run affairs with New Zealand and South Africa demonstrated England’s ability to compete with the top teams at least on their own patch. On both occasions, last minute tries for the hosts gave a …

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Autumn Internationals Report Card: Ireland

Raffaele Rocca grades the performances of the Irish Rugby side during the Autumn Internationals. It was a memorable period for Joe Schmidt’s men, as they came away with three wins from three. Ireland Record: Won 3 Drew 0 Lost 0 Grade: A Joe Schmidt’s men were by far and away the best performers of the Autumn series. The win against …

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The Numbers Game for Limerick’s AIL Clubs

Raffale Rocca speaks to former Munster scrum half Mike Prendergast on the worrying struggles of Limerick’s AIL clubs.   2008 marked Ireland’s decent into recession. It also marked the last time a Limerick club won the All Ireland League (AIL). Shannon were crowned the 08/09 champions after a pulsating tie with Clontarf at Thomond Park. It was Shannon’s ninth title …

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Match Report: Connacht v Scarlets

Connacht 14 Scarlets 8 Attendance: 5631 A showing of real grit and determination from Pat Lam’s men secured an invaluable victory for Connacht in their quest for European qualification. The men from West Wales came to Galway knowing that a win would enable them to jump the home outfit into that vital sixth place in the Pro12 and it was …

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Focus Friday: Pro12 Expectations For The Irish Provinces

Life moves on after Ireland’s courageous clean sweep in this November Series, and this weekend our eyes will drift back to our regional allegiances in the Guinness Pro 12. Where do we lie, and what do we expect for Ireland’s four provinces this week?   Leinster (5th) Leinster are entering a crucial point of their season, coming off a disappointing …

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AIL GOTW In Pictures: Dolphin 18 – 27 St. Mary’s

Last Saturday’s AIL action saw a great win for St. Mary’s in Musgrave Park, Cork. Nick Timoney was the standout player for Mary’s and even managed a try in the final few minutes. St Mary’s started the game off as they meant to go on with a penalty from Gavin Dunne to make it 3-0 early on. This was followed by two …

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Rugby: Who’s Hot & Who’s Not

It’s time for this week’s edition of ‘Who’s Hot and Who’s Not’. Matt Cassidy looks at the positives and negatives of the weekend’s rugby action. Who’s Hot Ireland What a win! Rewind 12 months and the men in green were being taken to town by the Wallabies. Fast forward to the present and the Irish side produce a performance against an …

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Rugby: Can Ireland Win The World Cup?

Ireland dug deep to defeat Australia 26-23 on Saturday to complete three wins from three in their Autumn series, which meant it was Ireland’s first November clean sweep since 2006. As 2015 beckons, focus now turns to the World Cup. It may be taboo to even mention, but nonetheless, the question must be now posed – can Ireland capture the Webb …

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Glorious Ireland Hold Out Against Australia

If one was told Ireland would go undefeated in the Guinness Autumn International Series, we all would have bitten the proverbial hand off.  However, is this Irish team at the peak of its powers? Ireland backed up their win over South Africa two weeks ago as they held off a determined Australia fight-back to edge victory in a thrilling game in Dublin. …

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Connacht Run Riot Against Zebre

Connacht 43 Zebre 3 Attendance: 5486 The crowd gathered at the Sportsground to give a warm Galway greeting to their new Kiwi recruits and the expectation of another home victory. And they were not disappointed as the men in green ran riot over an abject Zebre outfit. After early possession, Connacht earned a penalty due to a high tackle on …

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Ireland Vs Australia – Three Key Battles

Ireland face Australia at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday at 4:30pm. Brian Barry has selected three key battles ahead of the game. Rob Kearney vs Israel Folou Folou is the best fullback in the world. With 17 tries in his 27 caps, Folou can be devastating. An all-round athlete, he has tried his hand at Rugby League and Australian Rules …

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Sports Doc Of The Week: The 16th Man (Rugby)

In the second of our new weekly series of sports documentaries, Jonathan Abbott discusses ‘The 16th Man’, which charts the role of Rugby in creating an Apartheid free South Africa. Narrated by none other than Morgan Freeman, this documentary is one of, if not the Greatest Sports Story of all time. A country which lived through segregation its whole life, transitioned into integration, …

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Australian Overseas Player Policy In Need Of Review

Raffaele Rocca takes a look at the Australian overseas player policy and argues that this policy is in need of review. Under current Australian Rugby Union rules (ARU), players playing their club rugby outside of the Australian super rugby teams are not eligible to play for the wallabies. But with 2002 being the last time that Australia held the Bledisloe …

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Focus Friday: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Simon Zebo?

Simon Zebo exploded onto the scene in Munster, moving quickly across the radar with impressive cameos and bit part appearances. An academy prospect; he started to get more regular gametime for the senior team across 2011/12 – finally making his breakthrough. A hat-trick against the Northampton Saints in the Heineken Cup just after Christmas illustrated there was a new man …

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Michael Cheika: The Art Of Risk Taking

Alan Dempsey looks at how the risks Michael Cheika has taken on some relatively unknown players can often pay off.  January 2013; Before the start of the Super rugby season, a video surfaced of a New South Wales Waratahs pre-season warm-up game. Pre-season games tend to be dry affairs and generate little interest because few first choice team are likely …

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